I recently started a new job where I am paid a regular salary, but must track my hours. I can charge them directly to a contract, or indirectly to discretionary funds.
A lot of my time (especially at the beginning) is spent working on installs and configuration, which can take a long time and require very little direct action on my part, so I will often work on other projects or action items for the same project, rather than twiddle my thumbs for 90 minutes.
It occurs to me that during this parallel work time, I'm essentially working double for whatever contract (or working on two contracts at once). The way I see it, I have several options:
- Wait while install steps take place, don't do anything else
- Work on another step in the same project, charge once for my time
- Work on another step in the same project, charge for time spent concurrently on both
- Work on another project, charge time only to the project I'm actively working on
- Work on another project, charge my time to both
- Work on non-direct-charge items, charge only to the non-direct line item
- Work on non-direct-charge items, charge for both line items concurrently
(Yes, I know some of them boil down to essentially the same thing)
I've spoken with my direct supervisor, who's response boils down to "do the right thing". Company policy is pretty clear than as long as what I'm doing is "in line" with my responsibility for a project I can be charging for it. My question is not about what I should do. My question is: is one of these options objectively more ethical than the others? Are there established best practices for this sort of situation?